Tough Love February: It’s Okay to Make the Next Move

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First dates can go either way.

They can be miserable. So bad that you want to leave as soon as you arrive, and you spend dinner plotting an early exit. Or, if you’re more polite than that, you spend the entire time offering polite non-verbal cues that this just isn’t going to work. Or, if you’re more blunt than that, there’s no plot or non-verbal cues, just a direct comment that “This just isn’t going to work,” as you collect your things.

But first dates can also be magical. Non-stop engaging conversation. Equal parts listening and talking. Surprises. Commonality. Genuine interest in each other. A night you never want to end.

But then…the night does end. And then what?

Who calls who? When is that call made? Is it a text, or is that too impersonal? Flowers? Might be too soon…you don’t want to appear desperate…but maybe nobody does that anymore so it would just look romantic? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.

In business, thankfully, it’s a little more cut and dry. And we can offer advice in a simple sentence.

It’s okay to make the next move.

I’ll repeat that because it’s important.

Yes, it’s okay to make the next move.

While in some ways creating a business relationship is similar to a personal relationship, in many ways it is not. Do yourself a favor and save what have become social normalcies for dating to your personal relationships, and keep a business focused mindset for your business relationships.

You had a great initial meeting with a prospect. You clicked and had wonderful ideas about the future of your relationship and the future of your prospect’s goals. The best time to follow up is the next day.

A common mistake is to wait for the prospect to get back to you. Don’t do it. Don’t play the waiting game. Your new potential relationship wants to see that you are as interested in their business as they are. Get back in touch with them quickly, and offer a reason for them to respond. That could be a proposal, a follow-up meeting, or an invite to your office to connect on specific items from your first meeting.

The best method for connecting without being too disruptive is through e-mail, as long as the e-mail is professional, conversational, and short. With a phone call, you could annoy the other person before you even get started. And following up in person is wonderful, but I would do that only after setting up an appointment through e-mail. Unannounced visits can just be too intrusive for some.

After you send that follow up e-mail, you just sit back and wait, right?

Wrong.

If you don’t hear back, continue following up. You don’t want to be a thorn in their side, but we’ve all been on the other side of that coin. We’re excited about a new business relationship and then we go to the office the next day and a dozen things pop up unexpectedly. Suddenly the week is swamped and anything “new” is back-burnered and forgotten about by the weekend.

The key is to be persistent, yet pleasant. Keep it simple and short. Follow up as many times as you need to. If someone says they are busy, ask when a better time would be to connect. Continue with the follow up until you have an answer.

If done correctly, your persistence will likely be received in a positive way.

“Yes, I would love to get together. Thanks for staying on top of this,” is a common response. Once scheduled, show up at that second meeting prepared with ideas and insight…although I’d probably forgo the flowers.